AOL Price Hike to Encourage Broadband Leap


As of March 9, most America Online Inc. narrowband customers will be shelling out as much for their connection as their broadband peers under a new pricing plan.

AOL has started notifying the customers on its unlimited dial-up plan -- which constitutes the bulk of its 14.5 million dial-up-customer base -- that their monthly service fee will rise to $25.90.

That’s the same price for AOL’s new nationwide “AOL High Speed” service, which piggybacks on top of cable-modem and digital-subscriber-line network connections through partnership deals with Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications Inc., AT&T Inc., BellSouth Corp., Verizon Communications Inc. and Qwest Communications International Inc.

Unlike the older “AOL Bring Your Own Access” broadband services that offered content packages in addition to the broadband provider’s resident Internet-service provider, the nationwide “AOL Broadband” package offers a fully AOL-branded service, including content, e-mail and security software.

The move is intended to lure these customers onto the new broadband service, according to spokeswoman Anne Bentley.

“At the end of the day, it’s an opportunity to give our dial-up customers the value of a high-speed connection,” she said. “There is hopefully an opportunity for them to experience more of the video content and more of the things that will be enabled through this high-speed broadband connectivity, as well.”

The pricing change does not affect subscribers to AOL’s $14.95 limited-access plan or customers who subscribe to the older AOL Bring Your Own Access plan.

As of the fourth quarter, AOL now counts about 5 million broadband customers and 19.5 million subscribers overall.

The footprint for the regional Bell operating companies, plus Time Warner and Charter, covers most of the United States, Bentley said. AOL is also in talks with the remaining major cable operators, she added.